Sully's Blog

By Kevin Sullivan

July 23, 2021

As we emerge from the limitations and isolation of the pandemic, longing for shared experiences, it’s finally time for the Olympics.

“Americans are more divided than ever, gridlocked over social issues, race, gender and the economy,” according to an Associated Press special report. Geopolitical expert Ian Bremmer put it this way: “There is no advanced industrial democracy in the world more politically divided … than the United States today.” 

Amid that division, we’re craving “shared experiences” – the things that “bring us closer... +Continue Reading


By Kevin Sullivan

Over the years in media coaching I have run into executives who tell me they don’t want to prepare too much for fear of losing their authenticity.  In fact, the opposite is true.  Sound preparation relaxes us to the point where we can be ourselves – and we’ll also remember what we want to say.

I recently read Matthew McConaughey’s terrific new memoir, Greenlights.  He tells a cringe-worthy story of overconfidence and lack of preparation while shooting the 1995 film, Scorpion Spring. It was his seventh film and he had become extremely confident in his abilities.  So confident, he decided he didn’t need to read the script for his one scene in advance.  He believed he was talented enough and experienced enough to wing it and... +Continue Reading


By Kevin Sullivan

Over the weekend I heard a very sharp CEO interviewed on one of my favorite podcasts.  While her overall performance was strong, she began each of her first four answers with some variation of, “That’s a great question.”  I found it terribly distracting.

My hunch is that she didn’t really think each one was a great question.  She was filling time while mentally composing her answer.  Here are three better options:

•    Prepare for the anticipated questions so you can get right to your answer.

•    Pause.  A little dead air is okay.  It is perfectly fine to take a beat to think about your answer before you start speaking.  

•    Paraphrase the question back at the beginning of your answer. For example, if asked about your future plans... +Continue Reading


By Kevin Sullivan

At the outset of the pandemic, one of my goals was to read more books.  Instead, I have watched more TV.  My wife, Jo, and I have binged some great shows:  The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Yellowstone, Away, The Missing, three-plus seasons of Schitt’s Creek, Mrs. Wilson and Tiger King.  Okay, Jo bailed early on Tiger King, but not me. That time would definitely have been better spent with a book. We’ve tried Longmire and recently started The Crown

I enjoyed Hard Knocks and The Cost of Winning on HBO, The Quest for the Stanley Cup on ESPN+ and The Circus on Showtime.  I miss Billions terribly. While visiting my mom, we re-... +Continue Reading


By Kevin Sullivan

In any communications setting, focusing on what matters most to your audience is always a good idea.  This includes written commentary submissions to print and online media outlets. In a Harvard Business Review piece on the impact of ideas, Arthur Brooks wrote, “Editorial staffers ruthlessly reject everything except what they believe readers most need and want.”  

The former president of the American Enterprise Institute also pointed out that major national publications receive 1,000 unsolicited op-ed submissions per week. Getting published is a key step on the road to becoming recognized as an influencer, and in a crowded marketplace, there are a few keys to getting your column posted.

An editorial page editor for a... +Continue Reading


Sometimes I get asked to tell stories about my days working at the White House, which was a life-changing and humbling experience.  Working at NBC was life-changing, too.

Today for the first time in years, I watched the opening scene-setter of NBC’s coverage of the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.  As soon as James Earl Jones’ narration began, I got chills.

It brought me back to the NBC Olympics facility in the International Broadcast Center in Sydney, where I spent the month of September 2000 working alongside some of the most talented and dedicated co-workers of my career. 

Twenty years later, I have so many unforgettable memories from my first Olympics, along with a powerful... +Continue Reading


By Kevin Sullivan

Sports Business Journal

August 31, 2020

Communication has traditionally been viewed as the art of persuasion. Buy my product. Vote for my candidate. Donate to my nonprofit.

This year as leaders have navigated both the coronavirus pandemic and the national conversation on ending systemic racism, the communications landscape has profoundly shifted. The most effective leaders are using their communications opportunities to earn trust.

There are four foundational principles for earning trust through communication:

It’s about your audience: Your primary message consideration must be focused on what is most important to your target audience. As... +Continue Reading


By Kevin Sullivan

A number of years ago the head of human resources for a large corporate client told me he was opposed to referring to the employees as “family,” as had been the custom there. In a corporate setting, he explained, difficult decisions are inevitable and at times, people are going to leave for one reason or another.  If everyone has been told they are part of a family, there is a real sense of “betrayal” in those moments. 

Ever since that conversation, I have cringed when I hear an executive talk about family in the context of corporate culture.  Family is personal and the workplace is professional. Blurring these lines can adversely affect productivity and even profitability. ... +Continue Reading


By Kevin Sullivan

I was recently asked by my longtime friend and colleague Joe Favorito to be a guest on the Columbia University Sports Podcast (CUSP).  As we prepared for the conversation, it occurred to me that amid the podcast boom, there are few podcasts specifically devoted to the practice of strategic communications and public relations. 

As an enthusiastic consumer of podcasts, I scrolled through my subscriptions and went in search of worthwhile new additions to compile the following list of recommended pods for communications pros.  

The list is populated by... +Continue Reading


By Kevin Sullivan

For too long internal communications has been treated like fine china – you bring it out only for special occasions.  Staff typically heard from leadership when there were mergers and acquisitions, company milestones and the occasional crisis.  

That’s how it was for much of my time at NBC in the early 2000s.  The comms team was overwhelmed by incoming requests and the need to excel at external communications.  Internal communications was nobody’s full-time job. When NBC merged with Universal that all changed. 

The integration of two media and entertainment powerhouses was both exciting and anxiety-producing for the staff, who had many questions. The need to communicate clearly and as transparently as... +Continue Reading